Cryptosporidium parvum is an important cause of diarrhea worldwide. Cryptosporidium causes a potentially life-threatening disease in people with AIDS and contributes significantly to morbidity among children in developing countries. In immunocompetent adults, Cryptosporidium is often associated with waterborne outbreaks of acute diarrheal illness. Recent studies with human volunteers have indicated that Cryptosporidium is highly infectious. Diagnosis of infection with this parasite has relied on identification of acid-fast oocysts in stool; however, new immunoassays or PCR-based assays may increase the sensitivity of detection. Although the mechanism by which Cryptosporidium causes diarrhea is still poorly understood, the parasite and the immune response to it probably combine to impair absorption and enhance secretion within the intestinal tract. Important genetic studies suggest that humans can be infected by at least two genetically distinct types of Cryptosporidium, which may vary in virulence. This may, in part, explain the clinical variability seen in patients with cryptosporidiosis.